‘Need for planters in South India to innovate to add value to their products’

September 14, 2023 09:25 pm | Updated 09:26 pm IST - UDHAGAMANDALAM

Better branding of tea and coffee products from Southern India could help enhance economic value of the commodities, said M.V. Rajeev Gowda, Vice-Chairman of the State Institute for Transformation of Karnataka (SITK) in Coonoor on Thursday.

Mr. Gowda, who was the chief guest at the inauguration of the 130th United Planters’ Association of South India’s (UPASI) annual conference, said that establishing the brand “in the minds of the consumer enhances the experience” which in turn leads consumers to pay more for the commodities they consume.

Speaking about how Colombian coffee was branded and sold throughout the world, Mr. Gowda said that they used the character of Juan Valdez on his mule, to market and carve a niche for Colombian coffee in the world market.

“Similar efforts to highlight the source of origin of the products, with the help of the government to expand these brands from Southern India could make drinking tea and coffee aspirational” for the middle classes in India, he added.

“I was discussing with the CEO of Starbucks yesterday, about how chains have been springing up in even Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities,” said Mr. Gowda, adding that the “modern Indian experience is one where wealth is being generated across the country as income increases and the GDP goes up, leading to more money in people’s pockets.”

Also present at the inauguration was Amardeep Singh Bhatia, Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

He, too, spoke on the need for innovation among coffee and tea producers, using the example of a person who set up tea and coffee shops in Canada.

“Similarly, emphasising the health benefits of drinking tea, and other such strategies could help in adding value to the production chain,” for plantation crops in India, said Mr. Bhatia. He also said that it was important that producers do not vacate the international market for others to occupy, while also not compromising on the quality of products for the domestic markets.

“We can longer be bulk exporters only,” said Mr. Bhatia.

Also present at the conference was Jeffry Rubello, president of UPASI.

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